Project Researchers

Isabel Bredenbröker

© Zuzanna Kaluzna

I am a social and cultural anthropologist working between academia and art. As DFG Walter Benjamin Postdoctoral Fellow, my research project ‘Queering the Museum? – An anthropological toolkit for intersectional relations in the arts’ is based at CARMAH and HZK. I have conducted field research in Germany, Ghana, Togo, South Africa and Greece and previously held a faculty position at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Goethe University Frankfurt.

My work focusses on material and visual culture, specifically the anthropology of death, plastics and synthetic materials, anthropology of art and museums, queer theory and intersectionality, situatedness and autoethnography, colonialism, cleaning and waste. I employ multimodal ethnographic methods and engage with different formats in the field of public anthropology: I have produced ethnographic films, worked with field recording and (co-)curated as well as contributed to exhibitions in museum and contemporary art contexts. I enjoy the collaborative production of works and collective exchange as a different way of engaging with knowledge, also in teaching. At the EASA European Network for Queer Anthropology, I act a postdoctoral representative. My first monograph ‘Rest in Plastic: Death, time and synthetic materials in a Ghanaian Ewe community’ is forthcoming with Berghahn.

At CARMAH, I am conducting collaborative research in the Ethnological Museum Berlin. My project seeks to develop theoretical approaches from within the anthropology of art and kinship, queer studies and museum studies in order to understand and co-create queer relations around ethnographic museum objects. When searching for ways of collaborating that include political struggle, it is desirable to work on new intersectional techniques towards political agency and future-making. This should happen by looking at the intersection of defined categories of marginalization such as race, class, gender, economic positions and ableist conceptions of bodies and mental functions. Taking an approach that combines theoretical reflection from anthropology with artistic and curatorial practice, my project will formulate a queer methodology that informs and instructs the analysis and the creation of new relations around artworks and ‘ethnographic’ objects, queer here relating to unlikely kinship and non-normative kinds of relations that are of vital importance for anti-colonial practice in the arts and the museum. The project includes research with students as well as with other collaborators and will yield different works for exhibition contexts.



• Bredenbröker, Isabel. Rest in Plastic: Materiality, death and time in a Ghanaian Ewe community. Oxford: Berghahn.
• Bredenbröker, Isabel. “Queering Alfred Gell’s Art Nexus – Making non-normative relations in the museum context” In Ikonotheka, Special Issue: Queer Heritage – Central Europe and Beyond (2023). University of Warsaw Press: Warsaw, 2023.
• Bredenbröker, Isabel. “Advertising the ancestors: Ghanaian funeral banners as image objects” In Death’s Social Meaning and Materiality Beyond the Human, edited by Natashe Lemos Dekker, Phil Olson, and Jesse Peterson. Bristol: Bristol University Press, 2023.


• Bredenbröker, I., A. Stiegler, and LB. Schürmann. “This House Is Not a Home: Producing Encounter-Based Collective Formats in the Time of COVID-19.” The Garage Journal (2021): Выпуск 2 2021.
• Bredenbröker, Isabel. “On Death, Time, and Moving Images.” Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 44, 3-4 (2020): 59–62.
• Bredenbröker, Isabel, Christina Hanzen and Felix Kotzur, eds. Cleaning and Value: Interdisciplinary Investigations. Leiden: Sidestone Press, 2020.
• Bredenbröker, Isabel. “The Last Bath: Cleaning Practices and the Production of Good Death in an Ewe Town.” In Cleaning and Value: Interdisciplinary investigations. Edited by Edited by Isabel Bredenbröker, Christina Hanzen, Felix Kotzur et al., 69–88. Leiden: Sidestone Press, 2020.
• Bredenbröker, Isabel, and Philipp Bergmann. Now I Am Dead. In Journal of Anthropological Film, 4. 2020.
• Bredenbröker, Isabel, Felix Kotzur, and Christina Hanzen. “We Have Never Been Clean. Towards an Interdisciplinary Discourse About Cleaning and Value.” In Cleaning and Value: Interdisciplinary investigations. Edited by Edited by Isabel Bredenbröker, Christina Hanzen, Felix Kotzur et al., 23–38. Leiden: Sidestone Press, 2020.
• Bredenbröker, Isabel, Adam Drazin, Robert Knowles, and Anaïs Bloch. “Cleaning up after Gropius: An Ethnography of Dirt.” In Auf Reserve: Haushalten!: Historische Modelle und aktuelle Positionen aus dem Bauhaus. Edited by Regina Bittner and Elke Krasny. Edition Bauhaus 49. Leipzig: Spector Books, 2016.
• Bredenbröker, Isabel, Adam Drazin, Robert Knowles, and Anaïs Bloch. “Collaboratively Cleaning, Archiving and Curating the Heritage of the Future.” In Design anthropological futures: Exploring emergence, intervention and formation. Edited by Rachel C. Smith. London, New York: Bloomsbury, 2016.